Skin swabbing could be useful in detecting Covid-19, research suggests


Simple skin swabbing could be useful in helping to help detect Covid-19, new research suggests.

Chemists at the University of Surrey found that people infected with the virus appear to have lower lipid levels in the natural oils that coat the surface of their skin.

The most widely used approach to detecting Covid-19 requires a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which involves taking a swab of the back of the throat and far inside the nose.

This type of invasive testing can return incorrect results if not carried out properly, leading to false negatives in some cases.

Scientists hope non-invasive skin swab samples could be used to offer a quick and easy alternative to the PCR tests.

As part of the Surrey study, which was conducted alongside Frimley NHS Trust and the universities of Manchester and Leicester, researchers collect sebum samples from 67 hospitalised patients – 30 who had tested positive for Covid-19 and 37 who had tested negative.

Sebum is an oily, waxy substance produced by microscopic glands in the skin and is particularly abundant on the face, neck or back.



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